Meta Contests Proposed Ban on Data Processing for Advertising in Facebook and Instagram
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Meta Contests Proposed Ban on Data Processing for Advertising in Facebook and Instagram

Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd, the Irish arm of Meta, is challenging a proposed immediate ban on processing personal data for behavioral advertising on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. This legal move comes in response to an enforcement notice issued by the Data Protection Commission (DPC), which could have significant implications for Meta’s operations across Europe.

Background of the Legal Challenge

Meta was served with an enforcement notice by the DPC, demanding the cessation of data processing for use in advertising based on users’ online activities and interests within seven days. Non-compliance with this notice could lead to criminal offences and substantial fines. Meta, also responsible for the services of WhatsApp in Europe, has raised concerns about the clarity and implications of this enforcement.

Meta’s Argument Against the Enforcement Notice

Represented by senior counsel, Meta argues that the enforcement notice is vague and does not clearly outline the necessary steps to comply with GDPR obligations. The company also claims that the decision breaches its legitimate expectation of a fair hearing and procedures and raises questions about the constitutionality of certain sections of the 2018 Data Protection Act.

Impact on Facebook and Instagram

The proposed ban would directly affect the business model of Facebook and Instagram across Europe, as it would prevent the platforms from using users’ personal information to provide targeted advertising details to advertisers. This model has been a subject of investigation by the DPC for alleged data protection breaches, which Meta has denied.

Meta’s Alternative Solutions and Ongoing Legal Battles

Meta has proposed a consent-based solution to address the issues and align with GDPR obligations. However, their arguments of ‘contractual necessity’ and ‘legitimate interest’ under Article 6 of GDPR were not accepted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). Meta is already involved in separate legal challenges at the domestic and European levels regarding these findings.

Temporary Stay Granted by the High Court

Considering Meta’s submissions, the High Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Cian Ferriter, granted permission for Meta to bring its judicial review action. The court also issued a temporary stay on the enforcement notice, citing the serious criminal consequences and the short compliance timeframe as reasons for this decision. The matter is set to return to court later in the week.

Meta’s challenge against the proposed ban on data processing for advertising in Facebook and Instagram is a pivotal moment in the ongoing dialogue about data privacy, digital advertising, and regulatory compliance. The outcome of this legal dispute will not only affect Meta’s operations but also set a precedent for how digital platforms handle user data for advertising purposes in Europe.